Images On The Horizon
08.13.2015 - 09.12.2015
The visual dichotomy of the natural and the man-made are two things often found in Jojo Serrano’s colossal visual assemblages on canvas. Yet these two contrasts in his imagery also direct spectators towards new horizons situating the in-between as a mirror of how his work is somewhere between the figurative and the abstract.
Upon looking closer, the mélange of fragments of different images here and there create a disjunct often cancelling out each other, gives out a very particular contemporary élan. The eyes are directed towards a labyrinthine network of passages trying to figure out the visual ascendancy of one image against the other. From the hints of studies on nature like flora and fauna to industrial surfaces and architectural interiors, there’s a particular playfulness to how the spectator is directed to figure out his way through this maze of visuals. There’s also an exuberant manner of finding meaning and the lack of it in these passages that adds up to the complexity and dynamism of these paintings.
Meanwhile, amidst the grids and the technical dexterity involved in creating his colossal visual assemblages on canvas, lies also a hint of spontaneity. While certain parts of his assemblages try to depict a certain pictorial likeness that’s often bound to a certain precision, the other parts arbitrarily play around with a play on textures or imagined surfaces that carry on palpable easygoing gestures from the artist’s hand. While there is restraint there’s also an exuberant play operative in these assemblages. The play on textures and surfaces carried out by the thickness of the paint give for varying simulations to the experience of his works. Altogether, these images direct us towards a horizon that boldly depicts the aesthetic eclectism Serrano has always championed in his works.
words by Gian Cruz
What Falls Apart
08.13.2015 - 09.12.2015
In his second solo exhibit “What Falls Apart,” Joel pursues his fascination for collages, found photos and embroidery to create images that evoke subtle tension and hint at hidden narratives. Using stitched reliefs techniques and the layering of transferred photos and cloth, each piece invites the viewer to reflect and re-imagine. Facial expressions are erased, stitched over or left exposed. In some pieces the landscape is its own character, layered with sheer gauze-like cloth that hides or accentuates. In a personal note, Joel worked on some of the pieces at a time of crisis when his partner was diagnosed with terminal disease. “Working on these pieces provided some foothold. It was a space of expression that helped store up my mental reserves,” he says. “What Falls Apart,” is an exploration not only of memory but also of disparate, fragmented narratives, retrieved amid the onslaught of time.
08.13.2015 - 09.12.2015
Opening on August 13 at Artinformal is Yeo Kaa’s second solo show, Okay. Similar to the word that has taken a myriad of meanings (a yes, a confirmation that everything is all right, a kind of question, a sarcastic retort, or an exhalation of resignation), the works of Kaa are loaded with explosive reverberations, evoked through a fantastical, technicolor world of rooms claustrophobic as prison, salt and pepper shakers shaped like a phallus, slashed hands and spilled bodily fluids.
In the world created by Kaa, which takes after Blood and Stitches, we are confronted with scenes of destruction, suicide, even crime. In the center of the maelstrom is Kaa’s invented persona (with her bob hair and big, eventful eyes) who embodies the artist’s crippling fear at mundane tasks that they, once performed, become torture. Stricken with inertia, shown usually in bed curled in fetal pose, she even dreads of waking up, not wanting to participate in any human activity.
No wonder that the actions transpire in small, cramped interior spaces whose view of the outside world is a plain wash of color. But inside, everything is fever-pitch fantastical, dazzling in hues, patterns, household objects. Here, the subject conducts her chores of terror: cooking herself on a pan crowned with pink, malevolent flames; dunking her head in a drum; or sleeping peacefully as water engulfs the room, a sprawled body floating in the escalating flood.
Perhaps, no other work grips us more powerfully by the throat than “I Can Never Be a Wife or a Mother…I’m Too Selfish to Be One,” in which the figure is shown driving a kitchen knife into the body of a baby, who is still connected to her via the umbilical cord, her vagina parted open like an admonishment. A personal indictment against motherhood, the work signifies a terrible sense of failure at what is still considered a rite of femininity; the resistant mother is driven mad with fear and loathing. Near her is a gun, with loose bullets. After this filicide, it is assumed that the subject will also kill herself.
Not flinching at terrible subjects such as abortion and suicide, Kaa, nonetheless, is more interested in plumbing psychological states in which conflicting, buried emotions give rise to violent images and forms, of which we have passing glimpses in morbid fantasies and nightmares. In her glorification of the abject, Kaa peels off primal fears again and again like a scab so the wound can be made fresh again, with the delicious curiosity akin to that of seeing destroyed bodies in a car crash. She has honed her vision to such alarming sharpness that that the viewer feels incised, her organs scooped, only to be returned all jumbled up. Her terrors may be tremendous and extensive but they are subsumed in the powerful mediation of art, presumably the only one thing that the figure in the paintings and the artist herself are confident to take on. And that is okay.
Words by Carlomar Arcangel Daoana